FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson's Basic Combat Training Museum hosted more than 500 students from Pierce Terrace and C.C. Pinckney elementary schools Wednesday for its second annual Military Child Appreciation Day.
The museum teamed with Soldiers from around post to allow the students a chance to learn more about what it's like to be a Soldier in today's Army. The children learned how to fold a flag, practiced the Pledge of Allegiance, explored military tactical vehicles, learned how to march and salute, and brushed up on their push-ups.
"April is Month of the Military Child, and this is a venue where we can bring the children and show our appreciation for all the trials and tribulations they go through," said Julie Fishel, collection's manager for the museum. "It's a way to show the kids that they are thought of and that we care about them."
Nannette Wilson, a teacher's aide at Pierce Terrace Elementary School, said the event also gives the children a chance to relate to what their parents do and what happens on Fort Jackson.
"The kids are getting to see the equipment and the marching -- they are excited about it, and they think it's so cool," Wilson said. "I'm so glad they have this opportunity."
The students were also encouraged to ask the Soldiers questions, which resulted in some important lessons, said Arlene Alston, a Pierce Terrace Elementary School teacher. During one question and answer session, a Soldier told the children that Soldiers are like students and drill sergeants, or "the bosses," are like teachers.
"The Soldier explained that it is very important to listen and follow directions and be respectful," Alston said. "One of my students said he wanted to be a boss. I asked him what he would need to do to be a boss, and he answered that he would need to listen. I could see that they really got the point."
While some children were interested in learning how to be a Soldier, Hannah Tirey, 5, said she was just excited to do things she knows her dad does in the Army.
"I know he does the salute sometimes and some marching around," she said. "And I know that he does all of this stuff so he can learn how to be a Soldier and how to take care of other Soldiers."
But beyond learning about the Army and what their parents do, Fishel said the event was also about creating an opportunity for the kids to come out and have fun.
"They make a lot of sacrifices, and they're just awesome little people," she said. "We really just want them to know we appreciate them."